Do you struggle with regularity during holiday travel? How to keep things moving naturally

Traveling home or to exotic destinations for the holidays can be both a source of excitement, but also stress, and this disruption can often affect the bowels.

Constipation is very common, affecting approximately 63 million people in North America alone (1).

Though constipation is a common symptom among the general population, times of travel can trigger new symptoms or even cause temporary issues with gut health (2).

Acute constipation can be triggered by lifestyle changes associated with travel such as lack of movement, dietary shifts, dehydration, changes in routine, and sitting for long hours. This is not usually a cause for alarm though when this becomes chronic it can create further health complications.

Establishing regularity not only minimizes digestive discomfort, but it is also an important part of overall health.


How to promote healthy bowels when traveling 

If you find yourself all of a sudden struggling with going number two while on the road there are many things you can do to support a back to normal bathroom routine or even prevent it from happening in the first place.

There are some general gut supporting tips that will help keep things moving that should be addressed first and foremost and they have everything to do with your food choices and lifestyle practices.

But what if you're stuck on a plane and crammed into a tiny seat with little leg room? 

Well let's look at what you can do before, during, and after:


  • Get plenty of sleep the night before your flight
  • Stay as active as possible during your day
  • Avoid processed foods 
  • Start adjusting your routine to the new time zone of your destination 
  • Eat a healthy balanced meal and try fasting on the plane if it's a short enough flight


  • Pack natural poop aids such as fiber, magnesium, and probiotic supplements
  • Get up at least every hour to take a walk or stretch
  • Don't hold it in if you need to go
  • Pack your own meal and snacks for the plane if it's a longer flight, some good options include low sugar trial mix, veggie sticks and hummus, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, healthy protein bars, wraps, sandwiches, salad bowls, apples, and banana
  • Avoid coffee, soft drinks and alcohol and opt for water and herbal teas instead to prevent dehydration


  • Spend time outdoors to ground in nature and expose your eyes to daylight to help reset your circadian rhythm
  • Try to eat at your usual meal times
  • Get your bowels moving with a cup of warm lemon water upon waking (bonus points if you add some ginger to it!)
  • Try some yoga or stretching for some gentle movement and stimulation of the digestive tract

Even if you're at home for the holidays you can easily add in some healthier treats and snacks, get some movement in with your loved ones, and sip on plenty of warming herbal teas that will help to hydrate your body and support healthy digestion.

Your day to day food and lifestyle choices are always a good place to start however supplementation can help to provide temporary additional support for more stubborn constipation and when the above may not prove to be enough. 


Natural supplements for travel constipation 


Fiber is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate found in plants. We need both soluble and insoluble fiber to support healthy elimination and regularity, without forgetting that fiber is the food source for our beneficial gut microbes

Of course we can find these sorts of fibers in food, however sometimes too much fiber too fast can increase digestive discomfort. This is why it's important to increase gradually alongside enough water intake.

If you find yourself having trouble to go for more than a few days, a fiber supplement can prove to be a handy tool when experiencing acute constipation or when having limited access to fiber rich foods.

Research assessing the effectiveness of fiber for constipation found that it can reduce symptoms of constipation and improve stool frequency, as well as other digestive concerns such as IBS and bloating (3)(4)(5).

Fiber supplements can be added to water or taken in pill form for your convenience wherever you may go! 


Probiotics are found naturally in the diet from cultured foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, natto, miso, tempeh, fermented yogurt.

However, most individuals are not consuming probiotic foods on a regular basis and this can become increasingly challenging while traveling.

A probiotic supplement can help keep your good bacteria in check while traveling, which can cause disruptions for the gut microbiome. Beneficial gut bacteria can help to alleviate occasional constipation by stimulating peristalsis in the intestines and improving stool consistency (6).

Not all probiotics are created equal and there are a multitude of different strains to choose from. When picking a probiotic supplement for constipation, the following strains have been associated with improved bowel consistency and frequency (7)(8)(9)(10):

  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus

It is recommended to start with smaller doses of probiotics to avoid any unwanted symptoms and to test them out for yourself a few weeks before traveling if possible.


Known as the calming mineral, magnesium is also frequently used to provide relief from constipation because it acts as a muscle relaxant and an osmotic in the intestines, drawing in water into the colon and softening stools, making them easier to pass. Magnesium may be used as a natural laxative supplement due to these properties.

There are many forms of magnesium available to choose from however magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are most commonly recommended for constipation.

Magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed in the digestive tract, meaning it works well as a short-term relief for constipation due to its osmotic properties. 

Magnesium citrate is better absorbed than oxide while still providing a gentle laxative effect. This form of magnesium will also help to increase magnesium levels due to its higher bio-availability. If you also experience increased stress alongside constipation while traveling, this may be a better option for you.

Though magnesium is considered a safe remedy for constipation, you'll know if you've taken too much if your symptoms start to go the other way and your stools become runny. Then it's time to dial back your dosage!  


Travel constipation is common while traveling, however if constipation persists or you experience recurring trouble with number two then it's time to check in with your health care provider for further trouble shooting.